admin September 5, 2018

Abstract

Moral judgment has typically been characterized as a conflict between emotion and reason. In recent years, a central concern has been determining which process is the chief contributor to moral behavior. While classic moral theorists claimed that moral evaluations stem from consciously controlled cognitive processes, recent research indicates that affective processes may be driving moral behavior. Here, we propose a new way of thinking about emotion within the context of moral judgment, one in which affect is generated and transformed by both automatic and controlled processes, and moral evaluations are shifted accordingly. We begin with a review of how existing theories in psychology and neuroscience address the interaction between emotion and cognition, and how these theories may inform the study of moral judgment. We then describe how brain regions involved in both affective processing and moral judgment overlap and may make distinct contributions to the moral evaluation process. Finally, we discuss how this way of thinking about emotion can be reconciled with current theories in moral psychology before mapping out future directions in the study of moral behavior.

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